Their behavior is what gives them away—their “hawking.” They sit on a bare tree branch and watch the ground below. When a bug catches their eye, they swoop down for the kill, then fly right back to the same branch, and wait for another. Sort of bloodthirsty for such a cute little bird.
They have been using the trees on the edge of the garden, a place where insects abound and we are happy to have their help ridding the plants of them. Now we have a much smaller fall garden, a few peppers and tomatoes, and the cooler temperatures mean fewer bugs. Maybe that is why they have moved in closer, sitting atop tomato posts, waiting for their prey to creep by.
And last week we saw yet another new bug eater. Keith planted about 70% of the garden in sorghum. The huge seed heads on these plants attract both wildlife and birds. That was his main intention—to help feed the seed-eating birds and perhaps attract even more to the feeders closer to the house. That sorghum patch is where we saw the new bird, a five inch olive green bird, with a yellow throat, a black mask, and a long thin beak. My bird books tell us he is a yellowthroat, one of the many varieties of warbler. He, too, practices hawking and being smaller and lighter he can perch on the head of those thin-stemmed sorghum plants without bending them over. He is not there for the seeds but, like the phoebes, to watch for any bugs that crawl by. Sometimes he is lucky and one will be deeply imbedded in the seed head itself. All he has to do is lean over and probe with that long thin beak deep between those seeds. Lunch, without even having to dive for it.
That is not why we planted sorghum. It is not why we put posts by the tomatoes. Yet right now, the phoebes and the yellowthroats are getting more out of the garden than we are.
Sometimes Satan gets more use out of the good things we try to do than God does. How many times has a healthy pastime become more important to us than our spiritual health? I’ve seen women so concerned about their figures that they would no longer offer or accept meal invitations from other Christians, nor cook and take a meal to the needy. I’ve seen Christian men spend more time toning up their physical muscles than studying to tone up their spiritual ones. They won’t miss a work-out, but personal Bible study is a sometime thing.
How many times has the job which was meant to support the family become an all-consuming career that robbed a home of involved parents or a spouse of a supposedly committed and devoted mate? How many times has the money earned led to greed instead of generosity, and a dependence upon self rather than God?
Just because something is not inherently sinful, doesn’t mean evil cannot come from it. Just because you intend good from it, doesn’t mean the Devil can’t find a way to produce the opposite.
One thing about those phoebes and yellowthroats—they make an excellent example of careful watching; their lives depend upon it. Take a moment today to sit still and quiet and really look at the things in your life and what they are producing. Your spiritual life depends upon it.
His beautiful ornament they used for pride, and they made their abominable images and their detestable things of it. Therefore I make it an unclean thing to them, Ezek 7:20.